You may have heard of a famous site in Touraine called Clos Roche Blanche - if not do a quick google search or check Instagram, and you will see how excited people are about these wines - not only for their quality, but more-so now for their rarity, as the last wines produced there by Catherine Roussel and Didier Barouillet were in 2014. The history of the Clos dates back to the late 19th century, when Catherine's family first planted vines. Catherine took over when her father passed away in 1975, and this is when she met Didier. The pair converted everything to organic around 1992, and received certification in 1995. They also used biodynamic methods and preparations as well.
In 2014, Catherine retired, and Didier moved on to manage various other projects. Enter Julien Pineau! In 2013/14, Julien had been working at the Clos, alongside Laurent Saillard and Noella Morantin. And at some point when Catherine had decided she wanted to retire, Laurent proposed the idea to Julien that the pair should go halves and purchase the vineyards - and so an agreement was reached, and they purchased 6.5 hectares each. Julien had previously spent some time studying soil compositions at a geology centre, as well as working in vineyards in Provence and then in the Loire with Lise and Bertrand Jousset. His interest in the magic and life of the vines and the soil had never stopped growing, and so the purchase of the vineyards was a natural progression.
The site itself is one of the most beautiful set of vineyards I have ever seen. Surrounded by forest, the vineyards stretch out over gentle slopes, and are extremely pretty. Flowers are everywhere, birds, butterflies, bees, grasshoppers, all sorts of insects. And when we were there for the first time we even saw deer poking their head out from the forest. Julien has recently planted fruit trees too. There is such a high regard for all life here - biodiversity is paramount, and nature is truly as it was intended. And although Julien is not certified, he still farms using biodynamic principles, working with other Vignerons in the area, using biodynamic preparations, and working with the cycles of the moon.
The soils are poor, and are made up of clay and silex, with limestone subsoils. Julien has Sauvignon Blanc, Côt, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d'Aunis and Gamay. And he has just planted Menu Pineau too. The vines vary in age - Julien has some of the oldest Pineau d'Aunis in the Loire, and some of the Côt is up to 120 years old.
All grapes are harvested by hand, and kept in small containers, so as not to cause unnecessary damage. Julien is lucky in that he currently has use of the cellar onsite, with plans to find his own in the near future. Pressing takes place above ground in a large shed, but the vats and barrels are all underground, with the wine traveling via hose through the rock to the vessels below. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel and fibre glass and the wines either see no oak, or very old barrels of various sizes. As of 2016, all the wines have zero SO2.